By default, people pick the easy way out: the path of least resistance. Yet it’s the hard choice—the path of most resistance—that is more beneficial and provides most success in the long run.
How do these paths differ? What are the dangers of an easy life? What are the rewards of a hard life? How do you start taking the path of most resistance? I’ll cover all these questions and more in this article.
What Does It Mean to Take the Path of Least Resistance?
Taking the path of least resistance means choosing the easiest available option, with little regard for its long-term consequences.
For example, you eat whatever you like, whenever you like, and in whatever amount you like. This is often combined with avoiding physical activity because it’s too exhausting and uncomfortable. It may feel nice at first but all that indulgence has a very steep price. In that case, it’s guaranteed obesity.
Most people in modern world follow this path, and this is why so many people struggle with a lack of self-discipline, good habits, etc.
Dangers of the Easy Path
The easy way comes with countless dangers. Here are some of the most important ones:
- In the long run, being comfortable all the time leads to countless problems. They include: obesity, lack of fulfillment, and lack of stimulation.
- You don’t grow much, meaning your life never gets better unless due to external circumstances you don’t control.
- You’re not well-equipped to deal with hardships and unforeseen adversity. If they happen, you don’t know how to react without freaking out.
- Because you don’t know how to deal with stress and difficulties, even though you’re comfortable now, you may worry that you won’t be able to survive a future crisis (such as a job loss).
- You develop lazy thinking habits that make your life progressively worse in all aspects. You’d do anything that’s nice today, to hell with long-term consequences. Gluttony? Why not? Lying? Why not? Sloth? Why not? Envy? Why not?
What Does It Mean to Take the Path of Most Resistance?
The path of most resistance is about choosing the option that will lead to more personal growth, even if it means suffering in the early stages of the process. For example, it may cost you a lot to quit watching TV for hours on end. But over the long term, you’ll free up a lot of time that will lead to a more satisfying life than that of a couch potato.
At first sight, this approach is unappealing. It requires effort, loss of pleasure, and leads to potential suffering. Yet, on the other side of all that lies a world of more confidence, self-discipline and mental resilience. In the end, they more than make up for the fleeting superficial pleasures.
Advantages of the Hard Path
There are countless advantages of choosing the path of most resistance. Here are the most important ones:
- You learn how to deal with obstacles, setbacks, defeat, disappointment, and more. You become a stronger man who’s more prepared to deal with whatever life throws at him.
- You form empowering habits that help you prioritize personal development over convenience. When making this choice repeatedly, you can’t help but experience extreme growth.
- Because you expose yourself to challenges, you do cool, memorable things. Climbing a mountain, surfing, becoming a firefighter, learning a foreign language, studying philosophy, or becoming a public speaker is infinitely more interesting than eating chips while binge-watching TV shows.
- Because you don’t shirk your responsibilities, you develop self-discipline and a strong work ethic. Every single goal you have will benefit from cultivating these qualities.
- You become more persistent and more patient and that makes you more likely to achieve your goals.
- You become a natural leader because people are attracted to those who aren’t afraid to pick a harder but ultimately more rewarding route.
Examples of Taking the Path of Least Resistance vs the Path of Most Resistance
Let’s go through five quick examples to compare these two paths.
Taking Care of Your Diet
When grocery shopping, those taking the path of least resistance grab the first item that appeals to them. Those opting for the path of most resistance study the ingredients and pick the healthiest option.
The difference grows larger when we zoom out. The former person indulges in whatever they want, consistently gaining weight. Meanwhile, the latter person who takes care of their health will stay in great shape.
In dating, a lazy man resorts to pornography, deciding between which videos to watch for a fleeting, unsatisfying release. A man taking the hard path focuses on improving himself. That process gives him the tools to become an interesting man, naturally attracting women.
Those taking the path of least resistance keep the same friends around, even if they have a clear negative impact on their life. Those prioritizing personal growth over convenience will always opt for quality friendships, even if that means temporarily being without friends.
When working out, a man taking the comfortable way out works out only enough to feel like he’s done something “healthy” (if he exercises at all). A man taking the hard way works out through discomfort and constantly pushes himself beyond his limits like it’s his most important job (because it is: without health, we have nothing).
Men taking the path of least resistance struggling with insecurities accept them as a part of their personality. Men taking the path of most resistance address their weaknesses instead of identifying with them. They recognize that confidence is something everyone can build.
Don’t People Naturally Take the Path of Least Resistance?
We’re lazy by nature. If we can do something more easily and comfortably, we’ll always choose that path over the one that’s harder. This proclivity is an extremely powerful force, even when scientific research makes it clear that it’s bad for us.
Some may point out that it was because of this tendency that we now enjoy so many wonders of technology that people in the past would kill to have. We can be wonderfully creative when thinking of ideas to make our lives easier. No animals can match us in this ability and it’s what makes us stand out.
But ask the same individuals praising laziness if they would be happy living a life where everything is given to them the moment they think about it.
They would have zero hardships. Nothing difficult to face. No objective in life. No obstacle to overcome. You could spend your entire life in bed, playing video games or watching TV. Whatever you would want, it would happen right away.
No sane human would want such an existence. So even if by nature we like being lazy, we don’t want everything to fall into our laps with zero work. This brings me to what may be a follow-up question…
Is There a Path of “Medium” Resistance?
If there’s a path of most and least resistance, then there should be a path of “medium” or “middle” resistance as well, right?
The way I see it, the hard path is in reality a “medium” path. The point isn’t to always make your life so hard that you can barely function. It would be silly to take the longest commute, perform the least efficient exercises, or stop using technology.
If you were such a radical person, you would follow a “true” path of most resistance. But that’s not what we’re talking about in this article.
Instead, we’re talking about choosing the hard way when doing so provides bigger benefits later on.
Constantly pushing your body physically makes it stronger. Winning the battle with your alarm clock and getting up early gives you more control over your day. Doing your best at your job instead of slacking strengthens your work ethic.
If there’s no benefit whatsoever in making your life difficult (say, doing something as silly as eating undercooked rice just to struggle to eat it), then you don’t do it. Push yourself only when it matters and not to suffer for the sake of suffering.
How Do You Start Taking the Path of Most Resistance?
Taking the path of most resistance comes down to choosing the route that presents better opportunities for growth.
As a general rule, when presented with two or more choices, don’t ask yourself which one is easier right now. Ask yourself which one will help you create a better life. We typically know the answer immediately so the problem isn’t how to discern which option is better. The problem is to resist the temptation to go with the easier choice.
For example, you know that gorging on fast food or sitting all day long in front of your computer isn’t the greatest choice when compared to going on a run and reading books.
To begin taking the path of most resistance means to not only hear that inner voice. It means to actually listen to it and recognize this moment as an opportunity to do better.
Easy vs Hard: It’s Always Your Decision
Let’s go through some situations in which you’re choosing between convenience and challenge:
- When you’re at the gym, say, performing push-ups, the weak voice is going to tell you to stop right when things get hard. If you want to grow, this is your moment to choose the painful alternative: squeezing as many reps as you can.
- Your boss is looking for a volunteer who will present in front of a potential big client. Those who want to live an easy life will do their best not to get picked. This is your opportunity to grab that challenging task and use it to get ahead in your job.
- You’re trying to get up early but that comfortable bed is so nice you don’t want to start the day so quickly. Yet again, this is your moment of truth. Do you want an easy, comfortable but unfulfilling life or do you want to make things happen and improve yourself consistently?
- You’re a shy, insecure guy. You’re uncomfortable around women, yet you’d love to have a girlfriend. It would be so easy to avoid their presence and hope that one day somehow one would find you attractive and approach you herself. But we don’t live in a fairy tale. The only solution to solve this problem is to face your fears: talk and surround yourself with women as often as you can.
- You think it would be cool to write books, paint, produce music, or be otherwise involved in arts. But to be creative means to expose yourself to potential criticism. Many people never express themselves because they want to be comfortable. If you want to be different, take that hard path and start creating your art (and sharing it with other people).
If you need more ideas on how to challenge yourself, check out other articles on the website including this one on voluntary discomfort, this one on the benefits of getting out of your comfort zone, and this one on how to become a tough man.
If you want to get more advice and practical knowledge on how to become a better man, sign up for a free weekly Discomfort Club newsletter. Enter your email address below: